Juan Clavier left Montreal for British Columbia three months ago – and never returned. His job is still in Montreal, but he discovered that he didn’t need to be. “My girlfriend and I wanted to take a vacation, and I thought that if I was going to travel west, why not stick around?” Clavier has been renting Airbnb accommodations across the province while continuing to work as a manager at a renewable‑energy company. He has travelled to Revelstoke, Powell River on the Sunshine Coast, and stayed at a cabin near Fairmont Hot Springs. Now, he’s working remotely from Tofino, with no plans to return to his company’s premises any time soon.
Being a digital nomad once meant being self‑employed, and few companies allowed remote working before Covid‑19 hit. But with millions now working from their living rooms and basements, cabin fever has set in and many are craving an escape.
Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky says that travelling and living are starting to “blur together” as more people are booking rental properties for weeks – or even months – at a time, while AllTheRooms, an aggregator of vacation‑market rental data, found that the average length of a stay in vacation accommodation increased by 18 percent in the first half of 2020. Platforms catering to remote workers, like NomadX (which offers month‑to‑month accommodation for remote workers in Portugal, where U.S. and Canadian citizens can stay up to 90 days without a visa), are gaining momentum. Dave Williams, the company’s CEO, says he has already seen booking requests double. “We expect the number to be 10 times above what it was before the pandemic as a result of many companies going remote, including Apple, Facebook, Google and Twitter,” he says.